Diving

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The girl child is impulsive, affectionate, creative, tactless, destructive, demanding.
The woman is sunny, stubborn, talkative, pragmatic, powerful.
The crone created time itself back when she was a bit bored with eternity. She is somewhat cynical, set in the ways of fate and outstandingly optimistic, probably because of this.
They are all present, and engaged and I love them to bits, of course, which is a good thing as they’re part of me, after all. Hence I can paraphrase a Harry Potter masterpiece and say that I don’t have the emotional range of a teaspoon, given that I can feel at the same time apprehensive, worried, excited, exhilarated, anticipative, envious and a host of other ways, not always related and not always (but sometimes) about the same thing. And that’s even before I count the many ways in which I love some people, intensely dislike some others, yearn and long and miss and hurt for yet others (sometimes the same ones) and generally live a productive life. 
I feel comfortable in this sea of feelings and emotions, even though sometimes I could wish for a boring day or at least a quiet one. That would probably be the inevitably complementary influence of the male persona 
But that’s just me… and I am in a world with others, and the sea I just talked about suddenly gets put in a much, much, bigger picture.
I like to have relationships. Deep relationships, by preference, although no relationship is to be sneered at. Even bad relationships carry lessons we need to learn.
To deconstruct it a bit, it needs two people. I can perform, sparkle and entertain if there are more people, but a dyad of the other person and myself is the optimum, where I can focus. And there has to be willingness from the other person. To talk, to share, to react. I don’t need them to “open up” or even to be truthful. That would defeat the purpose, in a way. I don’t do therapy, fixing, dream analysis or anything like that, although I do have opinions (noooo!!!) and I am not afraid to share them (ouch!).
I used to say that I look at the world through a love lens, but that is not an accurate metaphor. I don’t generalize in the sense of “I love everybody” – that is sooo not true 
I don’t use love as a detaching tool, on the contrary, detachment is the one thing I try very hard to avoid. If I love, it is a specific person, not the idea of person.
Maybe the rope metaphor… you know, where I hold one end of the relationship rope and I throw the other one and I… what? Reel the other person in? That sounds just a tad… predatory, wouldn’t you say? 
Maybe there isn’t a good metaphor. And the only thing that come to my mind is that quote from my beloved Heinlein, misogynist and eugenist though he was:
“The more you love, the more you can love–and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on how many you can love. If a person had time enough, he could love all of that majority who are decent and just.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Negative

 

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If you are like me and trying to follow the diamond rather than the golden rule, sooner or later you find yourself with an excess of negativity. This other part of ourselves is not a comfortable place to be in, though, so we find outstandingly creative ways to either get out of it or distract ourselves from it. I acknowledge those who cannot control that negativity. I am also aware of those who prefer to wallow in it and call it everything from realism to ageism to what-not.
But in this article I want to focus on the role of the negative. For those young enough 😛 to have used photo film, you know the fascination of the negatives, the way our brain struggles and then begins to make sense of the reversed image, the play of shadow and unnatural light that coalesces into a weird beauty.
In a more real world (says who?), as I mentioned in another couple of articles, the negative is a lot more useful for survival than the positive. That’s why our brain notices it first and attempts to address it first. No matter the stark beauty of the wide open space of the savannah, that prowling big feline you see coming towards you gets noticed and dealt with so you can admire the scenery another day 
The upside to that is, of course, safety. If we succeed in reaching a safe place, the theory says we can allow that survival-oriented part of our brain to be at rest and we can concentrate on being human, including paying attention to and creating beauty. Most of us seem to have forgotten we have that switch though… does that mean we do not recognize a safe place when we see it anymore?
But there is another role of the negative, especially when we are talking about feelings. They are, of course, great motivators. Probably because of that link with survival, we usually act on the negative faster, and put a lot of effort into it. The results are… hmm, what’s a polite way of putting it? 
I will refer you to the entire range of fiction, and most of the non-fiction writing… just in case you haven’t noticed it, it ain’t pretty! For a milder version, the religious and inspirational teachings focus on teaching the brain to avoid acting in those ways, which is an acknowledgment of the way they usually pan out.
But if there is one thing our brain can do, is learn. We can learn to guide our actions, even when those actions are triggered by negative thoughts or feelings (greed, hate, jealousy and the like). I have tried to learn this with the shades of anger that are my usual negative response to life. I am in a vocation that allows me to use anger to try and change systems. I can also use it to arrange the life around me to be safe. I am not sure if anger can work at a group level (revolutions, anyone?) but at a personal level heck, yes it works! 
Don’t get me wrong, I can wallow in anger myself for a while, uncomfortable as it actually is. I can fantasize about revenge driven by anger – and I am inventive! 
In the long run though, that doesn’t matter because anger is a motivator for action, but (wait for it!) it is not the action. That has been, and is, and will be, under our control – and that’s the way I like it!

 

More minute

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It doesn’t sound quite right, does it?

I have thought… you might be forgiven for asking if I ever even do anything else 🙂

The answer is yes, plenty, thank you very much 🙂

But nevertheless I have thought of even more minute stuff that shapes my life, whether by giving me that little burst of joy or, on the other side of the coin, annoyance 🙂

For example, knowing a secret that is currently enriching someone else’s life.

Planning an overnight trip to a museum so that the little one could see dinosaurs.

An unexpected change of plan that makes me wonder about what could possibly go on in that person’s mind.

Sitting down to an inocuous discussion which allows me unfettered access into a difficult brain with a matching personality.

News about a friend’s good luck that will also make our lives easier and better.

Reading rubbish which nonetheless makes you aware of certain facts, which then in turn pleasantly surprise a friend.

An inefficiently arranged house which then gets dirty.

Accepting that my feelings aren’t mirrored.

Writing poetry, especially after a long break.

Wondering about the name of a plant, only to have a colleague mentioning it in a completely unrelated context.

Discussing choice, predestination, permaculture and why we usually do not eat felines during the same walk.

Seeing feijoas planted on public domain.

Stepping barefoot onto the soft remains of flowers that appear red from a distance but are actually pink on a closer look.

Lacking motivation to do anything of what needs to be done.

Receiving a certificate – now needing a frame to match the favourite colours of the people who helped me achieve it.

Planting a flower, then figuring out that I actually needed another one but realizing that the two will actually go well together anyway.

More positives than not I notice… 🙂

Tenderness

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It comes, unsurprisingly, from Latin. What may be surprising is the root: it means to have, hold, possess. It’s an ownership term, really, and it raised my interest because, as it happens with old words, we do not use it in that sense. We use the word for something that is fragile, young, delicate or for a feeling of deep affection that makes us smile at our happiness.

I can possibly reconcile the first meaning with the root, as usually the things we have/hold are smaller, more fragile than ourselves. I am also used to diminutives and even diminutives of diminutives – they sound sweet, truly 🙂 – especially around children (smaller, more delicate, fragile).

I cannot reconcile the second meaning though, not to that root. It would be interesting to know how it got there. Maybe the ownership is reversed, do you think? Maybe the object of our tenderness actually has a hold of us, and we enjoy our servitude?

Tenderness in this form leads, if you’re the impulsive type (like me) to the blurting out of certain facts of life (like “I love you”), most of the time in the middle of conversations that have nothing much to do with feelings. It’s a welling up of feeling, you see, it was always there but then that object of tenderness says something so lovely that you can’t help yourself and you have to let them know of the link.

Even if the situation puts a muzzle on the words though, tenderness is one of those feelings that calls out for more of the same. Unlike romantic love, where pain is almost implied in the process, tenderness leans more towards agape, about as pure as any human feeling can get, and so pain is bypassed which makes you feel safe, which then leads to you wanting more tenderness and so you put yourself in situations where you are likely to get this. In other words, you seek out both the feeling and the people who have offered this in the past.

Tenderness is an indulgent feeling, there is a luxuriating qulaity to it that I believe stems from that feeling of safety I mentioned above. This is what I mean by the hold being reversed. If we are safe, then it follows that some walls can come down, that we do not have to prove so much, be so active or try to decide how far to go. We do not have to impress therefore we can relax, be vulnerable and understand ourselves as small, rather than the larger than life bias we usually see ourselves through.

We offer tenderness usually to children, youth, pets, the elderly and sometimes baby gods. Basically, the ones on the brink of change (to grown-ups, to human, to death, to power).

When it comes to receiving tenderness though, sometimes we identify the lack before defining it. Something may be missing from a relationship that we have in another. We wish and ask for it (let’s just cuddle on the couch, anybody?), we model it, we grieve when we don’t get it and yet we get embarassed when we see it (PDA? It’s in our DNA 😛 ). Contrary creatures that we are!

Now, what to do about those who have never felt tenderness? Where will they learn?

Time

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No, it’s not Latin, at least not directly. It is Old Germanic and related to tide, much as it helps us, as we cannot actually define time without running around in circles biting our tails (Ouroboros or a frisky dog, depending how seriously you want to take the notion). We can devise tools, sometimes very precise ones, to measure it, but as to what it is, well, no one really knows for sure. Is it finite or infinite? Does it flow, jump, stay or renew itself? Is the future coming to you or are you moving towards the future? Is the past unchangeable? Can time be traveled other than in memory?

We know we try to manipulate the time continuum (is it a continuum all by itself or does space gather there as well?). St Augustine thought that we have all the tools we need for time: we simultaneously grasp the past in memory, the present by attention, and the future by expectation.

Remember that old Greek myth of Khronos (personification of time) eating his children and them remaining alive and unharmed (gods, therefore immortal, and bound by prophecy – which is therefore stronger than time?) in the vastness of their father’s reach. We seem to be in time, but are we time as well? Is time sequential or, like we can in memory, escape into possibility?

Time can also struggle along even if we seem to have lost a limb of it. An amnesiac still has a present and a future, someone with short memory loss will remember his childhood and can plan for the future, an infant seems to live in an eternal past-present, with nary a thought for the future.

So many questions, for something we take so much for granted and that seems such a simple concept.

A few things seem to be outside of time. An example would be the strong feelings humans can experience. We feel those, they relate to an extant object (person, country etc.), and yet they transcend time. It is as if that relationship makes and marks its own time, limited and yet wider than the usual continuum. When we feel strongly we can work, dream, eat, raise children and follow our pathway in our time, and yet a small part of us counts a different set of seconds, one that is not ours but belongs to that object and that connects us to that object when distance alone might not make it.

And should that clock falter, our very essence is at risk.

Quality

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There are many things I admire in people. Some are qualities, others are skills (it’s difficult to differentiate between them though…). Don’t get me started on talking about qualia or we’ll be here until tomorrow! 🙂

Some of the qualities I admire I also strive to encourage in myself. Others, as I know very well, will be forever out of my reach, I can only admire them and try not to envy 🙂

Bravery is probably the first on any of my lists. I don’t mean daring feats and adventurous inclinations, although they are brave and I am grateful for the freedom they bring to those of us left behind. Most brave acts though are nothing special to anyone else. It comes down to choice of action actually, not always taking the easy way for yourself. Some would say that immigration is brave, and yet I never considered mine so because I did it for love, and where’s the bravery in that? But when a relationship doesn’t work and you are gearing yourself to tell him so, and you make scenarios in your head and you know for sure that an easy way would be to just behave badly and get dumped… but instead you gather your courage, walk those steps and tell him straight that it’s not working out and you don’t want to be together anymore… well, I admire that!

Keeping your word comes very close on the tails of bravery. I don’t set much store by honesty in itself as too often it is not feasible, desirable or practical. Ideally it is a great thing, but there are too many people for that ideal to work. It is all I can do to keep lying to a minimum and try very hard not to lie to myself too much. I expect people in general to lie, prevaricate, avoid, evade or distract from the truth and that is a survival mechanism linked to personal interest. I won’t pretend I am not hurt by it and maybe I am too cynical, not too mention vain enough to accept lies at face value. I may not consider looks to be very important but I still won’t like to be told I am fugly 🙂 But keeping one’s word, that I insist on.

Kindness is such an overarching subject, I don’t even know where to start defining it. It has a lot to do with empathy, understanding, acceptance but true kindness feels personal and that is what I am looking for. I have no desire for charity in the pity sense or even in the general sense of “you are people and I love all people”. If you are kind, then be kind to me, not to my species. If you are kind, then be happy when you are with me. If you are kind, then pay attention to me, not to your God or Goddess who prescribed kindness for you. Selfish, ain’t I? 🙂

Wisdom is another difficult one. Intellect in itself is rather off-putting for me, unless some of the above qualities round up the edges a bit. Analysis is all very well when you have a problem but logic only takes you so far when it comes to feelings, and that is what I am about. Experience comes close, in that the sheer quantity of life happening over years carries a attraction. But the learning that comes to some from that experience, ah, that is priceless! It is not guaranteed – how many of us repeat our mistakes? But when it happens, I could gladly stay and listen for ages, then come back again and again, never tiring, always trying to find ways to repay the lessons I am receiving.

Qualities… have I even scratched the surface?